Buying a Used Dirt Bike

How to Buy a Used Dirt Bike

If you plan to acquire a quality dirt bike without spending a lot of cash on the purchase, I recommend acquiring a used model. The extra money you retain will help replace various parts of the bike and upgrade the used model to suit your preferred style.

As a purchaser, you should carry out a lot of research on different sellers, the types of bikes they sell, and if they can work to your utmost satisfaction. If you do not keenly analyze the bikes you intend to purchase, unscrupulous merchants can easily con you out of your hard-earned cash.

If you hardly understand the mechanical world dynamics, feel free to call in a savvy friend or veteran rider who can help you with the analysis and purchasing process.

Many used dirt bikes often come with complications. Engine complications could cost you a fortune, while minor problems like faded paint will cost a few bucks.

Always ensure that your seller makes known all the complications, and you both agree on a reasonable parting price that will favor each party.

In this piece, we discuss all the factors you should consider when purchasing a used dirt bike and identifying and avoiding dishonest merchants.

Prepare a suitable budget

You should first estimate the amount of money you plan to spend on the entire bike. Take the current market price of the bike and compare it to your seller’s offer. If the seller’s offer differs hugely from the dirt bike’s original value, you can consider acquiring it.

However, if the selling price and the original price come close, reconsider your negotiations and inform the seller of your status.

Besides estimating your buying cost, ensure that you consider additional repair and maintenance costs after the acquisition. A used dirt bike comes with its fair share of problems, so consider all your costs wisely.

Used dirt bikes often lack the extra upgrades buyers need for their optimum riding. Replacing specific components of the bike with better ones will also cost you extra cash.

Aside from the buying, upgrade, and maintenance costs, other small expenses might spark several times, mainly with prolonged use of the bike.

Several states require buyers to include sales taxes on any legal purchases. Don’t forget to include the sale tax in your total acquisition costs.

Other additional costs you will bear include title transference costs, registration costs, and insurance costs. Regional DMVs will help with the title transfer, and the process may cost you between fifty to five hundred dollars.

You will, however, apply for insurance sometime after the completion of the purchase.

Conducting adequate research

Critical analysis of the various motorbikes offered for sale will help you choose a good model and keep you from the reach of conmen.

You might also miss out on better deals if you rush to pick the first model you see. Take your time and patience will reward your efforts handsomely.

Start by checking out local bike tracks around your home because most riders who plan on selling their dirt bikes post their ads around the place.

Besides, don’t forget to check out local bike clubs; you can quickly connect with previous buyers and many sellers in such places.

Online websites and stores like Craigslist will help a great deal in your research and purchase. Despite the availability of many sellers on online platforms, buyers should exercise extra vigilance at all times when negotiating online.

A good advertisement for sale should include several photos of the bike, specifications of the model, type of model, engine size and type, year of manufacture, and brand.

Besides one-on-one sellers, you’ll often come across dealers and merchants who specialize in selling and buying used dirt bikes.

Even though their prices may differ slightly or hugely from those offered by individual sellers, you’ll enjoy the warranty and reputability that comes with purchasing used bikes from established dealers.

It would be best if you didn’t hurry to find a used dirt bike because the current market floods with different makes and models.

Take your time and evaluate the reviews given by owners and customers of similar dirt bikes, and make the right choice based on your analyses as well as their feedback.

The seller’s first impression

It would help if you didn’t risk your safety by delving too personal into inquiry or seeking information concerning your seller. Once you get a corresponding email or message from the seller, initiate a call, and make any inquiries you need to know directly.

Ask your sellers whether they own the bikes as original owners or second-hand purchasers, all the ownership deeds they will offer upon completion of the sale, the typical maintenance routines on the bike, and modifications, if any, done on the bike.

Making direct phone calls to merchants will shed some light on the sellers’ honesty and their personalities.

If you doubt the genuineness of the seller, visit them with a friend or veteran rider.

Besides, you should know the exact location where the sellers want you to meet. You might get lost if you walked into a place you never knew existed before.

Don’t shy away from requesting your seller to meet in a public place, especially if you can’t access the region they proposed. If a seller refuses to meet or negotiate a more convenient meeting location, consider their refusal a cautionary sign and look for other potential merchants.

All in all, remember to exercise courtesy when dealing with your seller and take into account their schedules. You wouldn’t want to waste another person’s time by asking irrelevant questions. Always reserve the most important questions for direct meetings with your sellers.

Inspecting the dirt bike

Most buyers ignore the inspection process when they get excited to try out their first rides.

Spare enough time before taking your ride home to inspect the model, even when the inspection process seems too obvious. 

Inspecting the bike can reveal many details you missed earlier and probably make you change your mind about the acquisition.

Check the nature of the chain, magneto covers, clutch covers, sprocket covers, and frames. Analyzing the paint to determine the level of scraping will indicate the duration or intensity of usage. Also, keep a keen eye for any seams or bends.

If you owned a bike before or can ride a dirt bike, ask the seller for a ride to determine the engine’s overall condition and functionality of other mechanical parts. If you visit your sellers in their homes, observe the dwelling.

The cleanliness levels around the garage and the maintenance level on other motor appliances such as cars will reveal the owner’s efforts to keep their machines in perfect working condition.

A well-maintained car or bike around the home will probably mean the seller exercised the same care with the used dirt bike on sale. You can ask the seller any of these questions:

  • What influenced the merchant’s decision to sell the bike?
  • Did the seller experience any prior significant complications with the bike?
  • Did the model get into any major crash?
  • What damages, if any, did the bike suffer? What rectifications did the seller make?

It would help if you also asked the seller about the bike’s age and routine maintenance practices to ensure the model’s smooth running.

Listen carefully to responses issued by the seller to determine their honesty. If your merchant fumbles from time to time, disregard the honesty.

Trust your senses and only make your decisions based on what you think and see, not what the seller speaks. Sometimes sellers exaggerate about the performance and condition of their machines.

The Checklist

Carry a detailed checklist to highlight the condition of each critical dirt bike part. The critical sections to check include:

  • Air filters

Examine the used bike for a faulty air filter. The seller should comply with your request to examine the filter. A seller hiding the truth will deny your request for examination. If a seller denies you the opportunity for examination, find another merchant with nothing to hide.

A poorly maintained air filter contains dirt and soot. You shouldn’t purchase a dirt filter because it could cause problems in future riding.

Also, use a flashlight to check for dirt and dust around the air inlet. I would advise purchasers to replace their dirt bike air filters because they significantly impact the machine’s overall functionality.

  • Oil leaks

Check the engine’s underside and front crotch seals for oil leaks. The seller may thoroughly clean the bike before inviting you over, so observe the places where dirt clings on the lubricant (dirt sticks on oil).

  • Radiator

Keenly observe the radiator to determine its condition. A smashed radiator will hinder the performance of the engine. Also, check the fins to see if they work correctly.

Don’t forget to check if the owner kept the coolant levels in good shape, topped up the radiator, and kept it from leaking. A poorly patched or repaired radiator can leak in the future and cause unexpected problems. Find another seller if the one you visited owns a leaking radiator.

  • Brake and clutch levers

Brake and clutch levers can bend or break easily. Although replacing a brake or clutch jimmy costs less, leaving the levers unrepaired can easily cost you more than purchasing these motor parts.

Rear braking pedals and shift levers can sometimes get broken, forcing you to repair them almost immediately. Please ensure that the seller keeps the shifter tight. Loose shifters often result when the splines wear out and require replacement.

  • Sprockets

Chains often wear out with sprockets. A well-maintained chain implies that the rear and front sprockets will last you a lifetime. A sprocket with hook-shaped teeth reveals serious wear. You can pull the chain away from the rear sprockets when checking the severity of the damage.

If the chain pulls farther away from the sprockets, you may need to replace it. Make sure all the teeth on the chain correctly line up and that not a chunk misses.

  • Plastics

An old bike will bear several scratches on the outer plastic case. When an old bike crashes into a cliff or tree, the owner may replace the old plastic with a new one.

Broken plastics beneath the motor’s seat indicate that the owner probably flipped it after getting too old. Watch out for any missing screws and seams around the adjustments.

  • Frame

A frame will tell you whether the bike encountered a major or many crashes in the past or not. Check for cracks on the frame’s intersections and at the joints. Also, examine the sub-frame for any bends by looking at the bike from a posterior view.

Fenders should lean more to single sides. Check for any breakages on the joints bordering the rear shocks.

  • Mufflers

Before conducting a trial ride, touch the muffler for any warmth. A warm muffler would mean the seller ignited the model earlier to prevent mechanical noises from showing during the experimenting ride.

Request for documents

Sellers should keep all the documentation indicating upgrades or visits to mechanics. However, many riders conduct maintenance on their bikes. Sometimes you can only rely on their statements for proof.

Several states require riders to register their bikes while others don’t. You should fully comprehend all the state laws in your region regarding the title and registration of motorcycles to avoid purchasing a stolen item.

Consult DMVs around you and inquire about the required paperwork for the ownership of a dirt bike in your locality and then ensure that you acquire your motor’s title if necessary in your region.

A Bill of Sale will indicate the finality of the sale contract. The seller should indicate ‘Paid in full’ on the document to clear any fraudulent claims of underpayments. Paying through a check guarantees utmost accountability, although some merchants prefer cash.

A Dirt Bike VIN

VINs contain seventeen characters and indicates the identification number of the dirt bike. The numbers will show you the bike’s previous history, including ownership status and upgrades, if any. Look for the VIN on the motor’s navigation neck, and determine its state.

Avoid safety recall bikes at all costs!

Despite the rigorous and regular quality checks done in the motorcycle industry, safety recall bikes often slip hands from one rider to another.

Sometimes authorities recall dirt bikes when owners ride them for prolonged durations. However, some brands secretly repair the bikes at zero costs and allow them to operate under the ownership of new unknowing riders.

A defective bike can cause severe harm to you or other road users without your knowledge.

Some websites and institutions such as the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, keep records on recalls of various dirt bike brands and can provide adequate information on the recall condition using the VIN.

Visit the relevant websites to check for the safety recall situation of your dirt bike.


 Typically every dirt bike owner around your hood knows the other guy. It would help if you didn’t worry about falling prey to a dishonest seller because the riding family around you will help with the safe and legal acquisition of a powerful and reliable dirt bike.

You most likely won’t encounter many challenges in your search for a good dirt bike. Trust your senses whenever you checklist a dirt bike, and immediately reconsider your options if faced with an untrustworthy dealer.

As I said earlier, the market floods many different motorcycles; you won’t lack a better alternative. Besides, you can invite a trusted friend or seasoned rider you know to accompany you in the search for a reliable motorcycle.

Remember to take the bike for a trial run because the experience gives you a better feel of the bike’s functionality. Lastly, keenly examine the paperwork to include all necessary details about your newly acquired dirt bike.